In 1989, a man converted his car into a rocket, shot himself into space, crashed into a satellite and began broadcasting his own SF show. No, that wasn’t an early draft for “Mystery Science Theatre 3,000”. It was the backstory to Canada’s legendary “Prisoners of Gravity”, a half-hour, weekly program focusing on science fiction, fantasy and comics. The show ran for 5 seasons and 139 episodes. Host Rick Green, a.k.a. “Commander Rick” interviewed a galaxy of guests such as authors Douglas Adams, Robert J. Sawyer and Ray Bradbury about issues including fandom, the impact of technology, ecology, sexism and feminism, and population growth. PoG garnered numerous awards and has become a cult classic.
Some may have looked at the cheap sets, Green’s deliberately campy performance, or the opening montage of the broadcast of an old nature show being interrupted by a storyline delivered through comics as being kind of hokey, but the show was worth watching. The authors and other guests gave fascinating insights into their own works as well as those of others and how these reflected our changing world. The show may not have taken itself seriously in a material sense, but it certainly did with its subject matter. That’s what took it beyond being charming into something that had a lasting value for those interested in the thoughts behind SF.
But, despite the quality of the show and its loyal following, TV Ontario, the station that produced the program, eventually cancelled “Prisoners of Gravity”.
But the Prisoners have broken out again – sort of.
Someone has started posting a couple of the episodes of “Prisoners of Gravity” on YouTube in multiple parts. Since this posting strays beyond nostalgia, perilously close to fanboy gushing, here’s a link to the first part of the episode examining fandom.
Thanks to Robert J. Sawyer (PoG’s most frequent guest) for spreading the news about the YouTube posting on his blog.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find some duct tape and a claw hammer to turn my wife’s Saturn into a booster rocket for my car/wannabe spaceship.